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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2007 Feb;73(3):711-7. Epub 2006 Nov 3.

Prevalence of Streptococcus suis genotypes in wild boars of Northwestern Germany.

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Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover, Institut für Mikrobiologie, Zentrum für Infektionsmedizin, Bischofsholer Damm 15, 30173 Hannover, Germany.


Invasive serotype 2 (cps2+) strains of Streptococcus suis cause meningitis in pigs and humans. Four case reports of S. suis meningitis in hunters suggest transmission of S. suis through the butchering of wild boars. Therefore, the objective of this study was to investigate the prevalence of potentially human-pathogenic S. suis strains in wild boars. S. suis was isolated from 92% of all tested tonsils (n=200) from wild boars. A total of 244 S. suis isolates were genotyped using PCR assays for the detection of serotype-specific genes, the hemolysin gene sly, and the virulence-associated genes mrp and epf. The prevalence of the cps2+ genotype among strains from wild boars was comparable to that of control strains from domestic pig carriers. Ninety-five percent of the cps2+ wild boar strains were positive for mrp, sly, and epf*, the large variant of epf. Interestingly, epf* was significantly more frequently detected in cps2+ strains from wild boars than in those from domestic pigs; epf* is also typically found in European S. suis isolates from humans, including a meningitis isolate from a German hunter. These results suggest that at least 10% of wild boars in Northwestern Germany carry S. suis strains that are potentially virulent in humans. Additional amplified fragment length polymorphism analysis supported this hypothesis, since homogeneous clustering of the epf* mrp+ sly+ cps2+ strains from wild boars with invasive human and porcine strains was observed.

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